"good first DSLR"on by sfcole
Pros simple to operate, good lenses, low cost, fast AF, AA batteries
Cons important controls buried in menus, no grip available
Summary I was attracted to this camera (my first DSLR) by several things: low cost, interesting selection of lenses, good ergonomics, and good reputation for picture quality. After some experimenting with the k100D and a 16-45 lens, I'm not 100% sold, and might spring for an Nikon D80 or wait to look at the Pentax k10D.
There are a number of things I like about the camera. For starters, it feels much better in the hand than the Rebel, and has an LCD on top. The shutter release placement on the Sony A100 was a dealbreaker for that camera. The picture quality seems to be very good, and is the sensor is said to be the same as the D70. I've been taking Provia slides on a Canon F-1 with prime lenses and having them scanned at 4000dpi. The Pentax images are at least as good with the 16-45 (I can't speak for the 18-55). For color, there's no reason to use 35mm any more. I like the AA battery system, and got a couple of 4-packs of Nimh batteries for $10 each. SD cards are cheap right now. The body seems well put-together, and is feels solid even though it's light. The anti-shake does work. Noise levels are low, and I could use 400 as the normal setting. Auto focus is excellent: even though it uses an archaic drive-shaft system a la older Nikon (the motor is in the body), it's fast and accurate, even in low light. The software seems good in the short time I've used it, and is necessary if you want to shoot raw and have Photoshop recognize the files.
What didn't I like? Yes, the controls are simple--that's the problem. Because of the small number of buttons, too many things have to be set via software menus. The one in particular that irked me was the spot meter--that should be immediately accessible (but at least the k100d has a spotmeter, unlike the Rebel Xti). Other things that should be immediately accessible: drive and AF modes, and bracketing for a start. The Nikon D80 is busy with buttons--now I'm starting to realize that may be a good thing. There should be a nice balance, though, and the more expensive Canon models seem to have struck it.
The lenses tend to be smaller and lighter than Canon or Nikon (Canon's kit lens seems junky to me, and you're forced to spend a lot more for quality).
The viewfinder is just ok, maybe slightly better than the D70 and Rebel. It's still shockingly small if you're like me and coming from an old F-1. The D80's viewfinder is far superior. It's too bad the k100d won't take a power grip. Pentax could easily have used the istD platform, but didn't. Probably an attempt to push more serious photographers upmarket. The buffer is small--this is not a camera for serious sports photography.
So at this moment I'm mulling over whether I really want to keep this camera and live with its limitations (which I probably could do for 99% of all my pictures) or trade up to the D80 or new K10d. This camera is perfect to learn on, and is great for those who want point-shoot simplicity and don't have a huge budget. If you're more experienced and like to set controls yourself, you may want something different.
Even with its limitations, the k100d is, I'm afraid to admit, far superior to my Canon F-1, and it's likely I'll never take another slide photo again (I might stick with B&W, though). The 16-45 is well worth considering, and at f8 is very sharp. In a 13x19 photo of tree limbs against the sky, I could see no color fringing, and edge sharpness is excellent.
Pros Shake reduction; great low-light photos
Cons Some settings inconvenient to change; No line/dots for self-focus; 6 MP
Summary I picked up my K100D a few months back after years of refusing to upgrade to digital (my old camera was a 35mm Pentax P30t that served me for about 13 years). So far, I have been extremely happy with the new camera. The pictures are generally great, even in low light. I have a set of photos from the New England Aquarium's fish tank that look fantastic despite the very low lighting and the lack of a flash (which would have reflected in the glass, plus probably angered the nasty looking sharks).
That said, there are a few downsides to the camera. First, some of the settings are irritating to change on the fly, notably shutter speed and aperture. As such, I often just switch it to automatic. Not a big deal if you are happy working in automatic (especially if this is a starter SLR), but if you are doing something more complicated it can be annoying.
Second, since the camera is autofocus, it does not have a focusing line or dot system to help with focusing on your own. This has caused some problems with my old telephoto lens (which is also about 13 years old), which the camera is not always great at focusing. It is much better with newer lenses, though. But I definitely miss the freedom of being able to easily focus things myself.
Third, the camera is 6.1 megapixels, which is fine for most purposes, but can be problematic if you are trying to make very large prints. But, this is really only an issue with very large prints of heavily cropped images. I recently printed a 12"x18" picture that I had cropped from horizontal to vertical, and it still looked beautiful. So if you never print larger than 8"x10", you should definitely be fine, even if you do extensive cropping.
All that said, I have been very happy with the camera - I just wanted prospective purchasers to be aware of some potential issues.
Also: you can view some of my photos with this camera here: http://photography.kitonlove.com
Pros built in shake reduction, hundreds of lenses, great price, great auto features
Cons where's the light meter? auto-white balance = poo
Summary I've owned this camera for a year now, own ten lenses of varying age and focal lengths, and overall I got to say its' probably one of my best purchases to date.
About four months prior to my acquisition of this camerea I purchased a Kodak P850...terrible machine... hard to use, and slow on the shutter. The K100D fixes those problems and gives me more...oh so much more!
The image reduction is a big plus for me. While the other camera I was looking at (Canon Digital Rebel) requires shake reduction lenses, the Pentax offers it internally, allowing me to save money, and purchase vintage lenses without worrying about 'the shakes'.
This backwards compatiblity is really nice for people that want to expand their lens collection on a budget. In fact, my favorite lens is an old Pentax Ashai 50mm lens. The colors are so warm and vivid with it, not to mention clear and sharp. Much better than the current DA lenses Pentax offers.
Shooting is fast and effortless in all but manual mode. But watch for the auto-white balance, it seems to have a tendency to suck the life out of your photos.
In manual mode you can really achieve some amazing shots, getting pictures that can make even the most amature photographer look like a pro. Especially when you use the white-balance to it's full potential.
The preview shutter is a nice feature in manual mode as well, allowing you to check how a picture will turn out, without writing it to memory, and checking it.
However, this feature could almost be done away with if the camerea had a traditional light meter! It shows red dots in certain areas of the viewfinder...metering god knows what, but it's not light! Having a good ol' five point meter on the bottom or the side would have saved me a lot of time and frustration getting the right shutter/arperature settings.
Overall an amazing camera, and should be a top buy for anyone looking for an affordable DSLR camera.
Pros Anti shake WORKS, good viewfinder, GREAT LCD
Cons miniscule buffer, slow fps
Summary Got my 100d a week ago, and so far, it's great. The LCD is top notch, and you can zoom way in on this one.
Add to that the fact that it will take just about any Pentax lens, and it's a winner. Just bought a used 1.7 50mm on ebay for less than a hundred bucks, and it works perfect.
While it's not weather sealed, it does feel well built, and having a stainless steel chassis can't hurt.
The anti shake plus great high ISO performance make this an available light shooters dream!
My only gripes would be the slow 2.8 fps speed and the tiny buffer, which you WILL fill up quickly.